Yokozuna Kakuryu retires

The Japan Sumo Association says yokozuna grand champion Kakuryu has retired.

Kakuryu sat out eight of 12 grand sumo tournaments through November last year due to injuries to his lower back, left foot and right elbow.

After the November tournament, the Yokozuna Deliberation Council issued a warning to Kakuryu over the absences and his failure to fulfill his responsibility as grand champion.

Kakuryu sat out the January tournament after injuring his lower back. The March tournament now underway was supposed to be his make-or-break contest, but a foot injury kept him from competing.

Kakuryu's stablemaster Michinoku suggested retirement after he missed the fifth consecutive tournament and the 20th in total. But the yokozuna said he could keep fighting.

However, Kakuryu decided to quit apparently because of expected condemnation from the Yokozuna Deliberation Council after the conclusion of the current tournament.

The Japan Sumo Association approved his retirement on Wednesday.

Kakuryu, 35, came to Japan in 2001, at age 16, from his native Mongolia.

He was promoted to ozeki champion after the 2012 March tournament, won his first Emperor's Cup in March 2014, and was promoted to yokozuna following that tournament.

Kakuryu won a total of six tournaments, and maintained the rank of yokozuna for 41 tournaments.

He obtained Japanese citizenship last year so that he can become a stablemaster after retirement.